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The time has come, the walrus said — to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax — of regenerations and things. Alright so maybe that last part is a rewrite, but still: "The Time of The Doctor" is upon us this Christmas, and 2013's holiday special of the BBC icon Doctor Who promises to usher in the latest iteration of the timey-wimey traveling lord of time with a... folklore-ish children's poem? An appropriate exit, considering the sing-songy and childlike nature Eleven (Matt Smith) has embodied for much of his time on the show. And just like the nursery rhymes of old have instructed us time and time before: all things must end. Smith’s final hour as The Doctor is upon us, and the trailer hints to a veritable smorgasbord of doings. One that's best told through images just as much as words — so get ready for a boatload of new pictures from the special, just-released as well.
From the clever cadence of Clara Oswin’s opening-line recitation to the reappearance of the clerics, the Christmas special has a certain “A Good Man Goes to War” meets “The Pandorica Opens” vibe to it. Things long a-brewing will at last be revealed, and we'll finally get an answer as to how and why this new Doctor can come about.
“And now it’s time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven’s hour is over now, the clock is striking twelves.” Ah yes, that old clock metaphor. And when the clock strikes twelve, so it’s time to grow up (into twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi). Though it's hard to foresee the feasibility of this transition, one that is being set-up as canonically impossible, at least according to an interview with showrunner Steven Moffat. An attempt to rewrite history is being made, my friends — a seeming hallmark of the Moffat era of Who.
But what could possibly lure the Doctor into such a precarious situation? Well, children, it seems: the Doctor's Achilles' Heel. And from the drawings to the puppet show, a lot of work has gone into this trap — if using the kids is indeed the trap. It remains to be seen how, why, and in what way the Doctor's remaining life force can possibly be 'stolen' from him, though it's a safe bet that plan never works out, all things considered.
“If you want my life come and get it!” Smith ominously bellows, a challenge to those who wish to steal his final days, no doubt creating some sort of paradox or highly powerful (and therefore dangerous) new weapon. But the mysterious and supremely stylized Tasha Lem, apparent leader of the clerics, isn’t the only one in on going after the Doctor.
She is, however, the mastermind — or at least the face of this attempted destruction. “The siege of Trenzalore is now begun,” she states, before a different female voice declares, “The Time Lord has entered the trap.”
Smatterings of the Doctor’s nemesis appear on screen, including those pesky Cybermen (both regular and a new (upgraded?), ominously creepy wooden Cyberman — perhaps created to make it harder for the Doctor to destroy? His sonic screwdriver doesn’t work on wood, after all), the Daleks, a couple Weeping Angels, and of course, the Silence.
Have all these baddies come together in order to set yet-another trap to catch the Doctor? And could that trap be the Silence themselves or something else entirely? Those unsettling mouthless baddies still have yet to fall, it seems, considering they’re still around. The prophetic ending of their and Eleven's time with us has been floating around the Whoniverse for awhile now:
"On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered ... Silence will fall when the question is asked.”
But Clara, ever the protective one seems to have another plan in mind for her Doctor. “Help him change the future, do it,” she screams, before we hear a Dalek cry out, “The doctor is regenerating!” So he is going to get around that pesky regeneration limit — but how, pray tell; how? Unfortunately that answer remains to be seen considering it's likely the entire point of the Christmas special, but that also means it is sure to be a doozy.
The official synopsis from the BBC for "The Time of The Doctor" is equally as non-descript and vague: “Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them — the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.”
Doctor Who’s “The Time of The Doctor” premieres Christmas Day (December 25) at 9PM on BBC America.
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